Part 1 of It Is All an Allegory, an experimental short story series by Ace Steblea provoking conversation about beauty and what our understanding of it reveals about ourselves.


flowers on red surface
Photo By Silvi Tela

It’s ok to envy… 

The inevitable begins at a vague horizon. For some immeasurable period of time, the unavoidable occurrence appears only as a silhouette of itself, a foggy warning sent to the present by a foresight built by context. And yet one always arrives at the event blindsided, painfully under-rehearsed. The horizon for him was beauty. It has taken him all his life so far and the ghostly apex shrouded in incomplete colors to this day motivates him into pursuing new, incongruent flings. 

At first, there were the greens, their seemingly unguarded lines, whose only sway is to the sun, guided his eyes to subtlety. Packed into crowded bunches of unevenly cut leaves are collusions of short-lived vibrancy. In their bloom, they stand to be witnessed draped in hues remembered even bypassing glances. Their purpose, to spread, to monopolize, to feed, to please only to be pleased in return. To attract in the ways that they do, what surrounds them must be a chorus of service whose work transpires unannounced. The organism mute and functions fully on involuntary actions, pure poetic instincts, places its most sparkling ligaments splotchy; too many here, a couple there, so that when one is faced with the entirety of the herbaceous foundry the eyes of the beholder is pleasingly populated. Silent and devoid of symmetry, at least in impatient passing,  the potted lives he collected near his windows or haphazardly hung on hooks screwed to his white walls and short ceilings was an innocent short affair. Until they all became brittle remnants, brown and dry.

Second were framed depictions of skillful imaginations set loose. The structured stills of places and people and things bored him. He thought the paintings grounded by common understandings of reality were pillars of excess, they exemplified the care for the aesthetics, they lacked the wild form of originality illustrated by the human body when entranced by the need for expression. His trail through the medium of paint on canvas formed a Venus rattled, esoteric, desperate, in a drought of self-importance yet certain of worth and place. If he was to worship, the altar of art must be a desolate and melancholy Eden scuffed by the broad feral strokes of unheeded martyrs. A steep price to pay if to be appreciated by his understanding though he viewed his gaze as a more forgiving one. There is little need for sense, just a brute yet loose kiss of thick vigorous pigments choreographed together by deft hands whose drive is to coagulate a festering sentiment.  He frequented museums and art shows too sophisticated for his class or education. He just knew what drove his eyes to quiver, what drove his focus free, in the meanderings of abstractions he saw himself, the reflection skewed and his features unbalanced and his heart broke. Even here, he thought, I am not enough. 

 Lastly, a girl. He saw her hands first, one was covered with a strand of knitted purple yarn and was slightly hoisted upward into a sleeve. The other was free and decorated with jewelry. A silver band with fine etchings on the pinky and a gold band with an amber circle on its center sat on the pointer. The disproportionate call to focus enticed his gaze more towards what was purposely hidden. In time as their relationship unfolded, from strangers to friends to something vague, he learned about the mystery and its purpose. It’s a birth defect. Her left hand didn’t mature past a certain state and hence is smaller and is missing a pinky and an index finger. And the fingers she did have were smaller than the ones on her right. She wasn’t ashamed, in her words “When born with something, you learn to live with it”. It was covered to avert eyes, she hides her abnormalities for others. Sometimes she still cries about it, sometimes she wonders about the reason for such intrusions. He wondered with her, at times forgetting his place and placing himself with her handicap. He’s seen her eyes, almond, and kind, with long dark lashes accentuated by manicured eyebrows. Her lips are full and supple in his memory and her hair was a curly mane of deep black. Her face slopes softly and so does her body.  Beyond her initial mystery, he saw little else to adore about her outward self, she was too much of an ideal, it would’ve been a young and overdone to love her for that. Instead, he stayed for what he saw wrong with her, for her bruises and deformations.